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2012 ‘Bright Lights, Big Cities’


Meet the 2012 ‘Bright Lights, Big Cities’ Vagabonds

BLBC: In Conclusion…

Two weeks, six send-offs, 2 alumni events, 2,000 miles, and one tech-filled Gopher Mobile later, we have finally completed our whirlwind adventure tour with Goucher’s Alumni Affairs and Development (and Admissions) Office.  What started off for us as something we jokingly thought about doing (“Hey wouldn’t it be cool to do Vagabonds this summer?”) has turned into a trip that has greatly/monumentally/astoundingly impacted all of us in ways that we are just now starting to better understand one week after the conclusion of the trip.

At every send-off, we would start off with some fun facts about the incoming class and then explain why we decided to apply to be Vagabonds this summer.  At first, our explanations went along the lines of, “We thought this would be really fun and we love Goucher, so we applied and did a couple of interviews.”  As the trip progressed and as we learned and heard more from various alums and First-Years, we realized that we really applied to the Vagabonds program because Goucher is and will be our home.  As soon as we are encircled by the woods around us, as soon as we see the “Goucher College” sign on Dulaney Valley Road, a whooshing feeling overcomes us and something knotted and tight inside us falls away.  For all of us, Goucher is the place where we have grown to become the people that we are today.  It is the place where in 10, 20, 50 years, we will be able to come back to with fond memories and excitement.  Overall, this trip has been about bringing this piece of home with us wherever we have gone and will go, sharing it with other Gophers along the way and ensuring that the “Goucher for Life” philosophy will continue for many generations to come.

Signing out,

Bright Lights, Big Cities 2012 [Kathryn, Joey, and Megan]

Preserving the Past: Kathy Jacob ’72

Stepping into the Schlesinger Library at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, you immediately begin immersing yourself in the stories of the past– exhibits hold letters infused with time-worn splatters of ink, ironwork and molding curl overhead, and the smell of books permeates everything.  Women from all walks of life and from all over the globe send everything from their tax statements to society-altering treatises to the Radcliffe Institute to be preserved and cataloged for future generations.  The documents can come neatly organized in acid-free folders or tossed haphazardly into cardboard boxes.  Once at Radcliffe,  Kathryn (Kathy) Allamong Jacob ’72 and her peers sort through the documents and essentially mold history and help determine who and/or what is remembered and forgotten.

Kathy came to Goucher with an interest in history that continues to this day– she received her Masters from Georgetown and her PhD from Johns Hopkins in history.  She has worked as an archivist at the National Archive and as a historian at both Johns Hopkins and the US Senate.  She has published three books about various aspects of American history.  Currently, her title is Curator of Manuscripts at the Schlesinger Library of the History of Women in America.  On paper, she sounds intimidating.  In person, she is a wonderful Goucher Girl who embodies both the academic prowess and the independent spirit that has defined generations of Goucher students.  As soon as I found out that we shared the same first name and both loved books, I knew that my externship with Kathy would be fantastic.  Also,the bibliophile/geek inside of me was overjoyed that I would get to spend my externship in a library nosing around through volumes and databases.

My day started off in classic Cambridge style with a run along the Charles River and a stop at a local cafe in Harvard Square.  I called Kathy and told her I would be there in five minutes.  However, almost half an hour later, I arrived at the Schlesinger dewy and stressed because my mentally-challenged phone was not equipped with a GPS and I had neglected to print out a map. My sense of direction seemed to have lost itself somewhere along Harvard Square.  Luckily, Kathy had not yet called the Alumnae/i House women, otherwise this getting-lost-in-Cambridge event would’ve become slightly worse.

Once at the Schlesinger Library, Kathy took me upstairs to her office and we talked about the influence that Goucher has had on her life.  It turns out, her high school Spanish teacher was a Goucher grad from the 20’s and became Kathy’s mentor throughout both high school and college.  When her teacher passed away, she left Kathy with all of the silver jewelry that she had collected throughout her travels.  Now, whenever she returns to campus or has a Goucher event, Kathy wears a piece of her teacher’s jewelry to honor the woman who led her on the path to Goucher.  Goucher has always been a huge part of Kathy’s life and she now “returns the favor” by serving on the Board of Trustees as an alumnae representative and has been the author/collector of the ’72 Class Notes for a few years.

Throughout the day, there were plenty of Goucher stories and connections:

  • Kathy and her classmates called the Loop Road the “Magic Circle” because of its ability to protect those outside the boundaries of the Circle (in the woods) from prying eyes.
  • Current Goucher professors, Jean Baker and MaryAnn Githens, assisted students in organizing groups to go to protests against the Vietnam War in Washington D.C.
  • Froelicher Hall, where Kathy lived, was guarded by a house mother who ensured that doors were open when men paid a visit and that curfews were obeyed.
  • In the tradition/pattern of many other Goucher gals, Kathy is now married to a Hopkins grad.
  • Jenny, Kathy’s colleague, ran around campus when she was younger because her dad was a dean.

She also took me on a tour of the climate-controlled vaults (home to Amelia Earhardt’s baby book and Julia Child’s recipe files), a tour around Cambridge, and even located a list of interesting biographies of one of my idols, Julia Child.  Throughout the day, we talked about books, academic research, catalogue systems, archival methods, transitions in history, Paris, and what Kathy would describe as the “cool factor” of her job– reading women’s diaries. Over lunch with Kathy and Jenny, conversation flowed easily and I felt like I was back with my friends at Goucher– albeit in a college town a few hundred miles away.  At the end of the day, I even got to get my hands dirty by reading and sifting through Civil War letters and finding sections that highlighted the yearning for home and for loved ones by Union soldiers.

Overall, Kathy showed me how you can turn a passion for writing, reading, and books into a stimulating career rather than a side hobby.  And most importantly, how a Goucher Girl (to borrow Carol’s phrase from a previous blog post) can leave her mark on history.

Merci beaucoup for everything, Kathy, and thanks for pointing out all of the Julia Child tidbits!

The Vermonster in Vermont

Driving through mountains, fog, and lots of pine trees, we arrived in Vermont two nights ago with our thoughts solely on finding our beds and falling into them as soon as humanly possible.  I think this is probably an overarching theme of the trip—going to really cool events and meeting awesome people, and then collapsing into our beds and forgetting that we have to do it all again tomorrow.  I guess that’s also why we’ve become semi-addicted to caffeine.   But the next morning in Vermont, we woke up to the reinvigorating Vermont air and a hearty serving of Vermont maple syrup, which woke up our brains and bodies for the day ahead.  We started off in Waterbury, VT, home of the original Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory.  I was especially excited because I’ve tried for years to convince my parents to stop there on the way home from Maine, but to no avail.  After our tour and free sample (Cherry Garcia), we headed into Burlington, which happens to be the largest city in Vermont but is sososo beautiful that you would never classify it as a large metropolis devoid of nature.

We met up with Steve Perkins ’99 (who is married to a Goucher Edu/Dance grad) and Karen ’06, two Goucher grads that now work at ECHO, an environmental aquatic center that focuses primarily on species native to Vermont.  To make the Goucher world even smaller, their boss is also a Goucher grad, whom we met later that night at a send-off!  We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium center, saw the tanks where they keep the “back-up” specimens, and also learned how two Gophers from seemingly disparate backgrounds (Steve majored in Art History/Historic Preservation, Karen in PoliSci) came to work at an aquarium in Burlington.

The rest of our day in Burlington was spent meandering and munching along Lake Champlain.  We ate locally-produced crepes at the Skinny Pancake, saw a BodyWorks exhibit at ECHO, trekked along the lake-side bike path, and chatted in a local coffee shop while drinking freshly-squeezed ginger lemonade.  Basically, we (Megan and myself because Joey likes New York more) want to move to Burlington.

To cap off this stupendous day, we went to a send-off at the home of Caroline Crawford ’91.   It turns out that Caroline will also be in Paris this fall with her best friend from Goucher, so hopefully a Goucher Girl reunion will take place!  The night started off with looking through Caroline’s yearbooks and learning about the vengeance of the yearbook editors after Goucher went co-ed—the administration asked them to make the cover image “more masculine,” so they in turn made the cover slightly more feminine with the addition of some subtle shading.  From there, we continued to exchange funny Goucher stories, memories, and comparisons. Four other alums from the Burlington area and two incoming students and their parents, who were all delightful, joined us.

The rest of our time since then has been on the road—we drove 3 ½ hours after the send-off to upstate NY, then drove today to the Philly Airport to drop off Joey, and then drove to Goucher to catch the tail end of the AAGC meeting and talk a bit about our Vagabond experience with the alumni board.  Consequently, we are currently recuperating in our hotel while the South by Southwest team is handling the alumnae/i event at Joe Squared in Baltimore.  Tomorrow, we are off to DC early in the morning to interview Tobin Tracy, a graduate of Goucher’s Master in Historic Preservation program.

Goucher Insider: Billie Weiss '11

Huge, green, and terrifying, The Green Monster in Boston’s Fenway Park intimidates even the most impressive slugger in Major League Baseball. But today, 2 Goucher Vagabonds and a Goucher alum stood next to it without an ounce of fear in their hearts (well aside from maybe getting sunburned or having a sprinkler magically pop out of the ground).  Thanks to Billie Weiss ’11, the BLBC Vagabonds got an insider’s tour of Fenway Park’s 100-year old grounds and facilities which included the press box, the dugouts, and the famed Green Monster.

Billie graduated in 2011 with a degree in Communications and a minor in Spanish.  Currently, he is on the photography staff of the Boston Redsox and this past summer, worked at tennis’ Wimbledon Championships.  Curious as to how Billie was able to land such an awesome job right out of college, we asked him if he had any tips:  “Just talk to people and try to meet as many people as possible.”  For both his internship with the Baltimore Orioles and his positions with the Redsox and at Wimbledon, Billie simply asked around at tennis and baseball events and got to meet the right people to put his foot in the door.  This fall, he will be attending graduate school at Boston University to study Journalism with a concentration in photojournalism.

Pahk Yah Cah in Havahd Yahd (Park Your Car in Harvard Yard)

Along the way, we’ve picked up useful witticisms/advice in Boston such as calling things “wicked,” that the Red Sox are the best baseball team (if you don’t want to get yelled at), and that the Charles River separates Cambridge from Boston (and that the two towns are two completely different places).

We haven’t been able to post in a little while because during the past two days we have been swept up in our 2016 send-off, externships, and an alumnae/i event.  While the send-off and alumnae/i event are pretty self-explanatory, the externship is a new piece of the trip for us that focuses on connecting students with Goucher alumnae/i out in the “real world.”  An externship focuses on bridging the gap between present and past Goucher students and understanding how alums got to where they are today.  It’s a means of showing students what you can do with a Goucher diploma after you graduate, with say a French and Art History degree, and are slightly apprehensive of the types of jobs available outside of college. I, Kathryn, “externed” with Kathy Jacob ’72 who currently works as a curator/archivist at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute; Joey with Dan Dolan ’03 who is President of New England Power Generators’ Association, and Megan with Meredith Edelstein ’05, who is a school psychologist.

As for the alumnae/i event at Battery Park Bar,  it was extremely well-attended and we had former Gophers from across the years come and bond over Goucher, Boston, and other fun things.  We were able to talk to a lot of recent alums who are doing fabulously and had really funny stories from their times at Goucher.  It’s especially cool to see how things have changed over the years, such as Julia Rogers to the Ath and the transition from House Council to Programing Board.

Later today, Joey and Kathryn will be hopping on the T back to Cambridge and then driving to pick up Megan from Meredith’s house, and then trekking up to Burlington, VT.

Hasta luego!

NYC en route to Boston!

What happens when you let three college students sleep in on a Sunday after traveling and roadtripping for a week? They sleep forever. So after rousing ourselves out of bed yesterday around 11 am, we traipsed off to brunch in a cute cafe nearby to get our day going.  On our agenda for our last full day in NY was a 2016 send-off at the home of Lynn Toby Fisher ’71 and her husband, Lee Compton, an interview with Charlotte Kellogg ’12, and trying to track down Megan’s mysterious Goucher inspiration at a Starbucks (to read more of the story, please see this link: http://www.facebook.com/gouchervagabonds).

Charlotte synopsis:  Charlotte currently works for a start-up company in Manhattan called App Guppy where she is employed as Community Manager.  Due to the small and interdisciplinary nature of the company, she is able to get her hands dirty by doing everything from using social media such as Twitter to attending back-stage events at concerts.  App Guppy focuses on making the smart-phone app world more accessible to people who want to create their own apps.  What’s really cool is that Charlotte initially found this position through an internship that she previously did with the organization.  Her advice to future graduates: take self-initiative and find cool jobs/internships that match your interests through sites such as LinkedIn and the Levo League.

Send-off: Right away, we got busy helping out Lee and Lynn.  We all helped put together the tomato and basil platters that went with the freshly-made smoked and regular mozzarella.  Once 5 o’clock rolled around, about 30 incoming students and family members filled the house with laughter and conversation.  It was again, truly a great group of students, excellent hosts, and wonderful food.  This was our fourth send-off, but so far, every group of 2016-ers has more than surpassed our expectations.

Starbucks Search: We went off in search of the 1st Ave. Starbucks to find Megan’s Goucher inspiration.  However, we were only able to find lots of different ways to get very caffeinated.  It was fun though to try and spot her in a crowd of people.

It looks like the sanction on country music only lasted until Connecticut where Kathryn fell asleep and everyone else reveled in playing twangy acoustical country music.  But now we are headed to Boston aka Beantown.  As a side note/question, if New York is the Big Apple, Boston Beantown, DC The Capitol, then what does that make Baltimore? Crab Town? Hontown? Just wondering.

Tonight we have an a gathering in Boston which sounds pretty exciting.  Additionally exciting is that we’re staying in Cambridge near Harvard Square, starting our externships, and going to an alumnae/i event soon!

Big Apple Recap

We’re finally in NYC and gearing up for an awesome 2 1/2 days here in the city.  Here’s a re-cap from yesterday:

  • Waking up at an ungodly hour and driving to Jersey City
  • Interviewing Zach Simon-Curry ’09 at Brunelleschi Construction (home of HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins)
  • Driving into NYC and then going on the Manhattan find-a-gas-station hunt
  • Walking the Highline in Chelsea with some of Joey’s family
  • Eating and mingling with recent alums at Chelsea Brewing Company
  • Relaxing in a European-esque cafe with some coffee and cupcakes from across the street
  • Falling asleep at 10 pm and sleeping for more than 12 hours

The alums were such a pleasure to talk to!  They ranged from ’04/’05 grads to newly-minted ’12 alums.  We talked about the influence of study abroad on their current careers, funny dorm stories from their times at Goucher, and the circuitous routes that many of them have taken to where they are now.  For us, one of the most heartening things was seeing that Goucher friendships can last decades despite miles and miles apart.

Today we have an interview with Charlotte Kellogg ’12 and a send-off for more incoming First Years at the home of Lee Compton and Lynn Toby Fisher ’71 in Manhattan.

Always Sunny in Philly

With the sun shining overhead and the water glimmering next to us, today has been our first (almost) relaxing day thus far.  We drove south from Mansfield/Wellsboro, PA to Plymouth Meeting, PA to meet Kathryn’s dad and youngest brother at one of Kathryn’s favorite hometown haunts– Pennsylvania’s largest Whole Foods.  After lunching and munching, we headed to Kathryn’s house to take a dip in the pool, work on video editing/blogging/budgeting, and eat a quick dinner before heading to the home of John, Amy, and Colleen ’15 McCawley in Ambler, PA for the Philadelphia 2016 send-off.  Little did we know that the McCawley family had prepared a veritable feast–hoagies, soft pretzels, salads, a sundae bar, and so much more!– for us and the other attendees of the send-off!

Aside from the usual crew of great Goucher 2016-ers and their parents, we were joined tonight by three current members of the class of 2015 and two alums, Karen Lyon (also a Goucher parent and employee) and Abby (Colleen’s neighbor who suggested Goucher to Colleen).  As Vagabonds, we were very impressed by the great attention to detail that the McCawleys took in putting together the send-off– from games, Towson Hot Bagel door prizes, goodie bags, and pre-printed name tags– which made our lives that much easier. The 2016-ers made our jobs even easier by really mingling and getting to know one another.

For me (Kathryn), this trip has really come full circle and is great example of how far I’ve come as a student and Gopher in the two years since my own Philly send-off party.  Two years ago, I was in the same shoes as all of the incoming students– I had no idea what the party would consist of, who would be there, or most importantly for many teenage girls, what I would wear.  Basically, I was a walking bundle of nerves.  But after meeting the Vagabonds, talking to other students who later became some of my close friends, and eating lots of dainty tea sandwiches, I was convinced that Goucher students were more like me than I had previously thought.  (If I have to be honest, the tea sandwiches probably sealed the deal)  Now as a Vagabond, I’m meeting lots of really interesting alums and current students who all have such diverse passions and great personalities.   As Mike Capuzzo would say, really, this is just about collecting stories.  And because all of these Gophers have such fascinating stories, that makes our jobs as the “collectors” relatively easy but so so so interesting and fun.  Can’t wait to continue the journey tomorrow in the Big Apple!

Solving Murder Mysteries, Ignoring Tornado Warnings, & "Milking the Cows"

Little did we know at 8 o’clock this morning that a mere 12 hours later in Wellsboro, PA we would learn about solving cold-cases, dash for cover from tumbling trees, and run into 3 people who came up to us about Goucher! I guess riding around in a huge mini-van with gophers plastered everywhere really does make you recognizable, or at the very least, more exciting.

Some highlights:

  • Talking with the staff of the award-winning literary magazine, Mountain Home, and meeting their dogs
  • Discussing various topics with award-winning author, Mike Capuzzo MFA ’11, who wrote The New York Times bestselling books Close to Shore and The Murder Room
  • Exploring the ‘Grand Canyon’ of the East Coast
  • Getting caught in a blustery storm/tornado
  • Escaping from falling trees
  • Assisting with the clearing of the roads
  • Dinner with Teresa (Mike’s wife), Mike, Maia ’15, and two co-workers from Mountain Home to celebrate their longest publication to date
  • Exploration (and ice cream) of Wellsboro with Maia
  • Attempting to adjust the pressure of the Goucher van’s tires

In this instance, pictures may make this experience a little more real for all of you that are tuning in.

Tomorrow we are driving about four hours south to Philly where we will be meeting up with Kathryn’s dad for lunch (and possibly get some work done by the poolside chez Walker) and then going to a Send-off in Ambler, about 30-40 minutes north of Philly.

Day 2 Review and Start of Day 3!

Yesterday was our first day of rip-rollicking adventure that started out in Towson at 8:30 a.m. and didn’t end until last night, or technically this morning around 1 or 2 a.m. outside of Mechanicsburg, PA.  Needless to say, today we are definitely going to refine our napping-in-the-car techniques.

We began by taking the D.C. Metro into the heart of the Capitol to meet Jesse Holland MFA ’12.  In front of the steps of the Supreme Court we discussed his work with The Associated Press, the role that the Goucher MFA in Creative Nonfiction has played in refining his writing style, and why he chose Goucher for his graduate degree.

Due to the nature of his journalistic background, Jesse helped us enormously with some of the minutiae that we ran into during our first “Goucher Insider” interview—such as our camera over-heating and trying to keep Jesse from sweating to death in the sun.  Among all of the wonderful advice and soundbites that Jesse offered, one that really struck a chord with us (and reminded us of a certain Wizarding school): “Goucher will always be there for me when I need it, and I always plan to be there for Goucher when they need me.”   A clip of our interview with him will be up shortly.

Afterwards, a cab swept up Jesse to his next rendezvous and we were left to contemplate what to do with the rest of our time in DC. Thanks to a friend of Joey’s, we went from sitting on the steps outside the Supreme Court to meandering through the Supreme Court library, walking behind the benches of the Justices, and seeing the “highest court in the land” a.k.a. the basketball court that is on the top floor of the Court!  On our way out, we also ran into Wendy Belzer Litzke, Goucher’s VP for Government and Community Relations, as she was waiting for a cab—talk about a small world!

After jetting back on the Metro and dealing with some technical difficulties from our GPS, which we’ve dubbed Winifred Oprah, we joined Margaret-Ann Radford-Wedemeyer, Assistant VP for Development and Alumnae/i Affairs, and three of her friends at a Vietnamese–French fusion restaurant near Fairfax, VA.  After a delicious meal and a blaring fire alarm, we traveled to the home of Rachel Bond ’12 and her parents, John and Shelley, for a send-off.  The Fairfax send-off was smaller in scale than its Baltimore counterpart, but the students and parents were just as warm, friendly, and excited about Goucher as their peers in Maryland.  We had a lively discussion about the food on campus, what to pack for freshman year, the first-year trials and tribulations of living in a triple, and much more.  The night was capped by a delicious Goucher cake provided by the Bond family and warm goodbyes.

Fairfax 2016 Send-off!

Today, we’re about to load up with some coffee and double-check that we haven’t forgotten any of our stuff before meeting with Mike Capuzzo in northern PA.  Mike is a Pulitzer-nominated author and Goucher ’11 MFA grad with extensive experience in the literary world.   He is also author of the New York Times best-seller, The Murder Room.  We can’t wait to meet him later today (and maybe get an autograph)!

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